“Transparent” star Jeffrey Tambor confessed that he was sick to his stomach when it came time for his transgender character, Maura, to initially reveal her transgender identity to the Pfefferman children.
Tambor, who nabbed a 2015 Golden Globe for the role in the Amazon Studios original series, spoke at an event Tuesday at the Paley Center for Media in New York — organized to promote the series to Primetime Emmy Awards voters. “Transparent” also won the Globe for best musical or comedy series.
“I was plenty nervous, and still am,” said Tambor. He recalled the coming-out scene with daughter Sarah (played by Amy Landecker) and said he was “throw-up nervous” about the situation. His thinking, he said, was that “I need to do it correctly for the (transgender) community, because lives are at stake.”
Tambor said working with series creator Jill Soloway was a unique experience, in that she encouraged the actors to slow down and actually participate in the storytelling. “There wasn’t a sense that, ‘This is mine, you’re hired to do this role,'” he said.
“Every daydream I had is coming true now,” said Tambor. “I’m very grateful.”
Amazon is throwing its weight behind “Transparent” in the best comedy series categories, including pushing Tambor as best actor. The studio also is soliciting Emmys voters on the original main title theme music, composed by Dustin O’Halloran.
Soloway said her own parent (whom she calls “Moppa”) came out around three years ago to her on a phone call. And “about 10 seconds after they came out,” she said, “I was writing a show in my head.” At the time, Soloway was directing her first feature, stripper-pic “Afternoon Delight,” for which she won best director at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
With “Transparent,” Soloway shopped the series around to “the six or seven usual suspects,” including HBO and Showtime Networks, both of which she’s done work for. But Amazon was “so passionate and committed” to the project, she said, it made the choice a no-brainer. Moreover, whereas traditional networks require review and approval of three actors per role, Amazon was OK with her picks out of the gate.
Soloway said about Tambor’s character, “I feel like we protected her a little bit in season 1… more than we should have. Maura is the most normal person in the group.” She added, “It’s about a family coming to terms with itself, rather than a person going through a transition.”
Judith Light (pictured above with Tambor), who plays the obsessive-compulsive mother of the Pfefferman kids, said Soloway incorporated everyone in the production — including 1st and 2nd assistant directors — as an intimate part of the show. She said Soloway, during tabletop reads, asked everyone to pause for a moment of gratitude: “Nothing is taken for granted,” Light said.
Brooklynite Gaby Hoffmann (HBO’s “Girls”) who portrays Ali in “Transparent,” marveled that almost every time she leaves her house “somebody comes up to me and hugs me…. Everyone seems to watch (the show) with their family.”
Soloway said that Bruce Jenner — the Olympic athlete who has revealed herself to be transgender — and the Kardashian clan have watched “Transparent.”
“It helped Bruce feel more comfortable coming out,” Soloway said. “I called my Moppa and told her she deserved some credit for that.”
About season 2, Soloway did not reveal much except to say there are flashbacks to the story of Maura’s Tante Gittel (her mother’s sister). Soloway and her team are still finishing writing the second season; Amazon is slated to begin production in late June on the next season, which is expected to debut on Prime Instant Video in late 2015.